Last Updated:
June 3, 2024

8 Tips to Increase Bar Sales

Looking to increase bar sales and profit margins? Read these top bar management tips from WISK to boost your bar revenue today.
8 Tips to Increase Bar Sales
Pamela Romano
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Table of Contents

Running a restaurant bar and competing with other establishments might be a lot of pressure. There are numerous variables to consider while running a restaurant bar business as it takes hard work and dedication to devise strategies to improve bar sales, attract more customers, and provide exceptional service for everyone who visits. You need to keep in mind that the key to success is consistency - make sure you offer the same high-quality experience each time they visit!

Check out these best bar strategies to boost your bar sales and performance. By focusing on providing excellent customer service, offering a wide selection of drinks, effective marketing strategies, and ensuring a cozy bar atmosphere, you can create a great environment for your guests to enjoy. Continue reading for ideas that can help you take your bar sales to the next level!

The practical steps for bar and restaurant owners

If you're a restaurant and bar owner, there are a number of things to think about, and it's vital to understand the fundamentals before you can run a bar business and manage one. This should include mastering liquor terminology and knowing which drinks are best for your restaurant business.

You may also want to consider how much time customers spend at your bar area because this will help determine if there needs to be more staff in order to provide better service.

Being efficient with your services at your restaurant bar comes with a few important steps which are crucial points to consider:

  • Sanitize the bar often
  • Have extra utensils, napkins, plates, and glasses to ensure you can serve every customer equally and quickly
  • Check and confirm order deliveries for every individual product you receive
  • Place food menu orders based on your recipes
  • Update your drink recipes to suit your customer's needs and brand appearance
  • Clearly set guidelines for tasks related to taking inventory
  • Aim to reduce the pour cost of your signature drinks to increase bar profits.
  • Prepare meetings with staff following every audit
  • Review your invoices every time you do inventory
  • Don't hesitate to give positive feedback to your staff
  • Give examples for improvement when delivering negative feedback to staff. Yet, avoid punishments as a means to motivate staff as this will create the opposite effect.
  • Seek professional help if needed. Consult with account managers, and personal bankers, invest in inventory software, etc.
  • Communicate often with your staff and update them with new information as soon as possible. For example, if you are planning a new schedule or offering a special of the day.
  • Create a loyalty program to reward regular customers
  • Know when national holidays or cultural holidays take place and pay staff accordingly
  • Have room for professional growth

How to increase sales at your my bar: redecorating

The hospitality industry is all about creating a warm and ideal ambiance for guests. This is especially crucial for bars, where customers often spend a significant amount of time socializing.

If you're a bar and restaurant owner, it's important to make sure that you're creating a space that is relaxing and inviting bar atmosphere. This could include choosing furniture that is both stylish and comfortable and ensuring that the layout of the venue is open and welcoming. This will set the tone for the overall experience of the business, which can influence customers’ perception of the quality of the products and services offered.

It is also important to have staff who are friendly and attentive, and who make sure that the guests always feel welcome and have a positive customer experience.

Here are some ideas for creating a cozy bar atmosphere that will encourage patrons to stay longer and spend more money, resulting in greater bar profits, growth, and a positive customer experience.

1. Lighting

Improve the atmosphere of your bar by adding signature lighting, such as dimmer lights scattered throughout or sconces on the wall over the bar area to create an intimate, comfortable feel for guests.

You should also ask your electrician about how best to adjust and control these types of lights so that they can be turned up or down depending on the time of day and season. Low light can increase relaxation and passion, while bright fluorescent lighting is energetic and fresh, which both have tendencies to increase alcohol sales.

Finding the perfect balance of bright and dim lighting starts with the right ambient lights since these will take up the most space.

Industrial drop lighting is a great way to improve the lighting in your bar and create a warm and inviting atmosphere. Drop lighting is a type of lighting that hangs down from the ceiling, and it gives off a soft, diffused light that is perfect for creating a relaxed ambiance. Industrial drop lights are also very versatile, and they can be used to highlight different areas of your bar, such as the Bourbon shelf or the beer taps. 

Ambient lights are also often categorized as hanging lights such as pot lights, chandeliers, and track lights, however, recessed lights can also take up the majority of ambient lighting. Between recessed lights and industrial pendants, if you want a classier look choose recessed, but if you want more casual, opt for pendants.

Task lights are as important as ambient lighting because this will determine how well your staff and customers can read the menu and navigate the restaurant. These can be small bright bulbs scattered where you think will be most practical, or they can be adjacent to the accent lighting to balance out the visibility that ambient lighting does not provide.

Accent lights should be used sparingly to accentuate the products you are selling, such as the bottles displayed at the bar, or used to make certain art pieces stand out for the public to see.

2. Light intensity

Another factor in lighting is light intensity. Too bright, and people will be tempted to leave earlier or opt for outdoor drinking. Too dark, and it'll feel depressing. Usually, warm-toned light bulbs will set a calm and more welcoming atmosphere, therefore if you are short on light fixtures color choice can significantly change the mood.

Use colored lights sparingly to set a specific mood - a bar with pink lights is going for a romantic feel, while an orange light is more energetic. Those with red lighting are associated with excitement and partying, versus blue which sets an edgy and cool vibe.

Avoid using neon or other tacky colors as these will make your bar seem less refined than you may want it to be, however it works for restaurants who offer mostly drinks over food or are going for a retro vibe.

3. Decor

In addition, it's important that you pay attention to how your bar is decorated - this includes everything from adding a personal touch with photographs of family members or staff members to the bar, to adding accents and colors that match your menu.

Take a look at some of these bar decor tips to increase the attractiveness and quality of your bar.

  • More is more. Based on current trends, white is not as interesting as it used to be. Therefore fill up your space with different colors, textures, shapes, and sizes to increase variety in the bar area.
  • Artwork and mirrors provide increase patrons' visual appeal for your restaurant bar and provide more brightness to the space. You can also team up with local or well-known artists to decorate your walls.
  • Consider ordering new chairs that add more color to the space. Any extra seat you can bring in will increase your sales as well as increase the number of people who enjoy their time at your establishment.
  • Build a menu with large fonts or change fonts to make it easier for customers sitting at tables or further away from the bar to see what drinks you offer.
  • Add a few decorative plants to increase the natural beauty of your bar. This is especially important if you want customers to feel at ease and have more space while purifying the air. You can add accent walls filled with natural greenery which will add a down-to-earth vibe to your restaurant.
  • Add signage or posters with positive messages near your bar, such as "The perfect drink is waiting" or "Come on in, we've got what you need".
  • Having TVs in the bar area will attract customers who watch sports or just enjoy watching tv, which can spark comfort and their desire to stay longer as well. You can also use these to display your menu, events, and specials since digital signage can help contribute up to 30% to your point of sale.

4. Music

The next best way to increase bar sales is by improving your venue's sound system. This can be done in a number of ways, with the most popular being installing surround sound speakers so that music fills every corner and nobody misses out on their favorite songs.

If you have an older space and are not able to install standalone speakers or advanced technology, then you should consider adding a sound system to the bar.

Most bars have televisions and music playing, so it can be difficult to hear your guests talking amongst themselves - this will increase their frustration with being at the bar. It's important not only that customers are able to speak freely without any problems but also that they feel engaged in conversation with each other.

It's also important to increase bar sales by balancing the quality of the sound that your bar produces - music should be at an appropriate volume, not too loud so as to drown out conversation and general noise from patrons but not too low either or people will have a hard time hearing it.

One way to do this is by installing a soundboard on the bar which will increase your ability to adjust things like bass, high range, and even volume.

Of course, the loudness may also spark certain emotions in people. Play music at a slower pace if your restaurant has fewer people, however, if you want to attract more people to your restaurant you may need to adjust accordingly.

Contrastingly, more upbeat music can improve beverage sales by 40% when your restaurant is packed, as faster tempos encourage faster drinking and quicker decisions. The genre of music you choose depends on what cuisine and decor you offer as this will ensure everything is cohesive and not clashing.

Louder music is especially useful in increasing sales during happy hour, which sets a theme and mood for your restaurant since it aligns with excitement and socializing behaviors. 46% of customers are also saying that deals and drink specials positively influence their decision to enter a bar/restaurant.

5. Conversation

How bartenders communicate with the customers is also a big deal.

Bartenders do not only have to remember drink orders but also need to build rapport with customers. They are responsible for creating a positive customer experience by providing great service and engaging with the target audience and new customers.

Studies show that when bar staff interacts at least every 30 minutes with their guests, they increase alcohol sales by up to 30%.

If your bartenders are friendly and attentive, then they will increase bar sales by making customers feel more valued. This can be done in a number of ways:

  • Smile at everyone you talk to
  • Make eye contact with each customer as much as possible
  • Always make sure your bar is well stocked so that service never takes too long or people will become frustrated and leave
  • Listen to what your customers want, and don't make assumptions; you might increase alcohol sales by suggesting a new drink or appetizer they may not have tried yet.

Increase your bar staff interactions through the use of a point-of-sale system. This is where bartenders have access to customers' orders and preferences. It will help them remember how much everyone has drunk or if someone's favorite drink needs more ice. This also helps out a lot when they're busy, as it will increase your bar sales and improve your bartenders' efficiency.

To add to this, bartenders also need to be able to upsell, which involves convincing guests to upgrade to a higher-priced drink or food item to increase bar profits.

Upselling can increase bar revenue by as much as 60%. This is also where bartenders increase their own tips and increase the amount of money that a customer spends in one sitting. Some examples include offering complimentary and signature drinks, suggesting an appetizer or dessert accompany any food items they ordered, and asking customers if they want anything else when it's time for them to leave.

6. Scent

The next thing you can do to increase bar sales is by using scents. No matter the size of a bar or restaurant, there's always room to make improvements in order to increase bar revenue. One way is by adding signature scents that are associated with positive buying decisions such as citrus, vanilla, or cinnamon.

A study by Rockefeller University found that people remember 35% of what they smell as opposed to 5% of what they see and 2% of what they hear.

What is a signature scent? A signature scent refers to the smell that you associate with your bar or restaurant, so when customers walk in they can experience what it feels like to be there without having actually been there yet (which will increase bar sales). This feeling translates into people wanting to return and keep coming back again - research has shown that customers increase alcohol purchases by 27% when they have a pleasant experience.

One way to achieve this while maintaining a classy-looking vibe is by adding signature fragrances or diffusers that are available in most stores. This will create an inviting environment that is a cozy bar atmosphere. These are often used in the restaurant industry, especially in hotels and have been proven to increase people's willingness to stay at a bar. You can also use scents by using candles or even incense sticks that are made for bars, as these will increase bar sales without seeming tacky.

However, you want to be careful not to overdo it with the fragrances so as not to irritate your customers. The use of scent is a subtle way of attracting more people and increasing bar sales without seeming too in-your-face or overbearing (especially if you have sensitive guests).

It also has the ability to change how someone feels - for example, peppermint oil increases alertness and energy while lavender increases relaxation and reduces anxiety.

The key to scent is choosing the right one for your bar depending on what you're going for, as each will increase bar sales in different ways. You should also be aware that certain scents can increase appetite - this means it's not just about creating a nice environment but increasing food sales too!

7. Touch

Offering physical menus sounds old school, but changes the way customers experience your restaurant. You can play with different materials when designing your menus to make them seem either more luxurious or even practical at the bar. Most bar menus are encased in leather or high-quality waterproof materials so that they are not compromised when exposed to liquid.

Texture and weight can be implemented at your bar based on the glassware you use to serve drinks. For example, stemware is more expensive and fragile than wine glasses - so when customers use these, they spend more time at your bar. Even in the glasses, your staff uses to serve hard liquor, purchasing slightly heavier models can lend hand to the experience of tasting the drink.

Another way to increase the amount of time a customer will stay at your bar is by keeping their hands busy with something else - for example, giving water or coffee refills which can potentially entice them to order something else. Even as simple as adding ice to drinks or allowing customers to request garnishes such as slices of lemon, lime, and orange, or cherries can add to their positive impression of the bar.

Coupled with this, you can also increase bar sales by using rustic materials and textures such as wood, leather, stone, and metal surfaces which create a cozy atmosphere for your bar. It provides customers with a tactile experience and an increase in the amount of time they spend at your establishment.

There are also other ways to increase alcohol sales by using touch such as laying down a nice fabric or rug underfoot that adds an element of warmth and ambiance.

The seating arrangements in a bar also play an important role for both the guests and the staff. With carefully planned seating, guests can be accommodated in groups or individually, depending on their preference. 

This also allows for easy conversation and an unobstructed view of the bar. The seating arrangements are essential for efficient service setup for the staff. The layout should also allow for quick and easy access to the bar, so that staff can quickly restock supplies and meet customer needs. Also, make sure your seating arrangements give enough room for customers to navigate and also enjoy a drink comfortably and that they can be served quickly and without interruption.

We suggest bar stools with a supple material and a bit of back support.

There's nothing better than customers being able to eat anywhere they want. Having a terrace, garden, or outdoor seating in your bar will increase alcohol sales by 43%, which have shown to mostly come from younger customers.

This is because there are so many options for customers to choose from; they're not limited in any way. Outdoor spaces are used as places where people can eat, drink and relax while feeling the breeze and soaking in the sun.

Furthermore, socializing outside can lead to people being more likely to purchase food and drinks from a bar or restaurant because they're having a good time. They are essentially experiencing your food differently, which appeals to a diverse audience when comparing both indoor and outdoor diners.

The outdoor space is also a great way to increase alcohol sales by having the ability for customers to eat and drink anywhere they want without dealing with an uncomfortable environment like inside your restaurant or bar, which can be detrimental if you're trying to increase alcohol purchases.

8. Taste

Taste is inevitable because your bar relies on the drinks you serve. Customers will be more inclined to come back if you offer something original, something that no other bar will have.

The trick is offering custom drinks, signature blends, and craft beer, or hiring bartenders with creativity up their sleeve. Offering drink specials or hosting events where younger customers can sample different types of alcohol are also good ways to increase bar sales. This is because you're giving them the opportunity to try before they buy, which will increase your chances of making impactful profit margins.

For example, if you own a wine bar and offer tastings for customers who are unsure what they would like, they are given the chance to get a run for their money because there are fewer chances of selling a drink they don't appreciate. Through tasting, customers can more confidently place an order and most often continue to place more afterward.

Let's say there's a signature cocktail that no one else has or an original flavor you offer at your bar- customers will be drawn to it because not many other bars offer this type of drink. It also encourages people to come to your bar and revisit these specialty drinks.

Another drink option is offering popular drinks in larger formats, such as in pitchers - you name it, sangrias, margaritas, daiquiris, etc. Having this option makes group events easier and more fun to plan because customers can share a pitcher of their favorite drink with friends.

The food should also be taken into consideration when increasing bar sales - it is the perfect way to increase your bar sales by increasing the number of people who come in for dinner or lunch. Even if you're probably not serving meals at the bar, having items that are complimentary to the drinks served, such as olives, cheese, and nuts are a great way to increase bar sales.

Additionally, offering a takeaway drink option is another way to increase bar sales. This can be done by having your craft beer for sale in cans or bottles which can be bought at your bar.

How to increase sales at my bar?

Any company's primary goal is to make a profit, and the hospitality industry is no exception. To make sure your bar is getting high-profit margins and making money hand over fist, you need to find ways to get customers to buy drinks. Boosting bar sales may be tough, but with a few tips, you'll be well on your way to increasing your bar revenue.

Top 8 Ideas for making a bustling pub

A good pub is more than a place to get a drink. It's a place where people may come to unwind, socialize, and forget about their problems for a while. But how do you make your bar overcrowded all the time? The solution is to provide an extraordinary customer experience and quality service to achieve higher bar profits. A fantastic bar event can assist with this. Organizing events and happy hour specials on off-peak days is important for encouraging more customers back to your venue.

(1) Host bar theme nights and event concepts

Bar restaurant businesses are often reliant on attracting a consistent stream of customers to maintain a high-profit margin. However, this can be difficult to achieve during slower days or periods. To combat this problem, bars should host themed nights or events. This involves decorating the space in a festive or themed manner, playing more upbeat music that gets people dancing, or providing bar games or other entertainment activities.

Offering something unique and exciting can help to ensure that your bar restaurant remains busy, even during the slowest times. For example, hosting a ladies’ night or happy hour can attract more women or office workers looking for a place to unwind after work. Offering discounts on certain drinks and other menu items can also entice customers who are on a budget. And for those looking for a more unique experience, hosting themed events such as karaoke night or trivia night can be a great way to bring in new business resulting in to increase in bar profits.

This is also the best time to promote seasonal offerings, special deals, and other happy hour promotions. For example, you could offer drink specials and signature dishes for those who purchase a certain number of drinks. Moreover, these events can also help to attract customers who might not have otherwise considered your bar.

(2) Craft something of your own secret menu

Create and focus on signature drinks and food items that are more profitable. Offering your signature cocktails is a great way to get people interested in what your bar has to offer.

Start by creating a selection of drinks that's unique to your establishment and that will appeal to your target market. If you're trying to attract a young, hip crowd, for example, you'll want to focus on trendy cocktails. If you're aiming for a more mature crowd, classic drinks like martinis and Old Fashion may be more appropriate. Once you've created your selection of drink specials, it's important to promote it effectively through social media channels and encourage customers to try something new.

(3) Promote happy hour specials

Bar restaurant operates on a slim profit margin, and bar sales are typically a major source of revenue. Most bars have some sort of happy hour specials, whether it is discounts on signature cocktails or appetizers.

Many times, there are also themed happy hours that will include a monthly cocktail recipe contest, with the winning drink becoming the signature drink for that month. A monthly cocktail recipe contest is a great way for bartenders to show off their skills and creativity and the type of drink served will depend on the particular bar's focus.

Certainly, customers are always looking for deals, so promoting happy hours are a great way to increase bar sales. Most often, loyal customers will order more than one drink during happy hours because the special price and food costs are so much better than they are during regular hours. You can also offer drink sales or discounts for large groups or for customers who buy multiple drinks.

For millennials, who are more likely to prefer alcohol-free drinks, consider offering happy hours on alcohol-free drinks. Craft beer is also becoming increasingly popular, so it's important for bartenders to be knowledgeable about different types and brands. 

Lastly, be sure to prominently display happy hour information so customers know when they can take advantage of reduced-priced drinks or a free plate during the happy hours promotions.

(4) Play up the bar experience

Part of what makes going out to a bar fun is the experience itself.

As any bar owner knows, providing a great cocktail menu is essential to attracting new customers. However, simply offering a great selection of drinks is not enough to keep people coming back.

To really build a loyal following, a bar owner needs to offer something unique, fun, and exciting bar atmosphere that makes your pub a destination and encourages customers to stay longer and buy more drinks.

(5) Bar games

Games are a great way to create an interactive environment and potentially can help you increase bar profits. Popular bar games include pools, darts, foosball and trivia nights are ideal for bars because they provide a way for customers to socialize and have fun without getting too rowdy. And best of all, they're relatively inexpensive to set up. Just make sure to choose games that appeal to your target audience. For instance, if you're aiming for a young, hip crowd, you might want to consider offering video games or table tennis. If you're targeting a more mature crowd, then card games or chess might be more appropriate.

In addition, offering drink specials like your own signature cocktails are effective to encourage customers to try something new (and hopefully buy more drinks!). It's also worth considering running happy hour promotions on social media or offering discounts for groups of friends who are playing games together.

Whatever bar games you choose, make sure to promote them with drink specials and other promotions. 

(6) Offer free samples

Free samples of menu items are often used in the restaurant industry.

This can be given to creating mutual trust between the server and the customer and feeds into the reciprocity principle - feeling the need to give back to whom has been generous to us.

This technique can also be particularly effective for highlighting new or unique drink offerings such as the bar's signature drinks. Nothing entices someone to buy a drink like getting a free taste of it first and this is a great way to get people interested in buying them.

By giving potential customers a small taste of what's on the drink menu, they're more likely to be curious about trying more than one drink – and that can mean big bucks for your bottom line. Of course, it's important to be strategic about giving out free drinks. Just be sure not to give away too much or you'll cut into your bar profitability, so it's important to find the right balance. 

Ordering with ease

What you attract in your restaurant bar is based on what you are providing and communicating to customers. One way to increase bar profits is by being more inclusive and diverse in your drink menu offerings.

This includes putting photos of drinks on the wall while making sure that people know about specials and options so that they feel in control of the ordering process.

It's important to offer a diverse range of cocktails and drinks for all types of people - from those who enjoy fruity beverages to others with sweeter tastes or looking for something more alcoholic. Offer variations such as virgin drinks, frozen margaritas, margaritas on the rocks, martinis, and mojitos.

This will definitely increase alcohol sales as customers are more likely to order drinks they know or have tried before.

Customers are more likely to order drinks if they can see them - so it's important that you have a variety of glasses and alcohol on display for customers who may want something different from what is offered on tap.

Offering an expensive drink more than what an average bar offers can also benefit you. This will increase the perception of your bar and its quality, which in turn may attract more customers who are looking for a high-end establishment.

While people will come to bars to drink, don't forget that there may be a lot of competition nearby. Offering digital menus may also reduce the frustration for those few customers in a rush or for those waiting in line.

You could also increase the number of bar staff to improve efficiency and decrease wait times. In some circumstances, it may also be appropriate to increase the prices of drinks in order to increase profit margins which promotes alcohol sales.

Preparing drinks

As the bar staff is one of your most valuable assets, it's important to invest in training them well. With good instruction, they'll increase their knowledge and services with more confidence meaning customers will enjoy their experience even more.

Staff should be able to identify the different types of drinks so that when someone asks for them, they know what ingredients are needed or how long it will take to prepare.

An example includes being able to tell the difference between a dark beer or pale ale - knowing this makes ordering for someone else easier as they can quickly declare their preference.

Another example includes identifying obscure liquors - this is a small detail that makes customers feel more confident in ordering and increases alcohol sales.

Another example includes: "What kind of alcohol do you serve?" - this is a perfect opportunity to increase bar sales by mentioning that they offer drinks from all over the world.

Knowing how to properly chill a glass is also a big detail that is often neglected. This is an essential step in a bartender's process because it can make or break someone else's enjoyment of their drink.

It doesn't matter how good the alcohol is if you don't serve it properly to your customers - and many people will be very disappointed with drinks that are served too cold or not chilled enough.

Another important detail is properly rimming a glass to serve with your drinks by moistening it first with citrus fruit or liqueur and then dipping it into the dish containing your ingredient, such as salt, sugar, cinnamon, chili, ginger, crushed candy, etc.

Measuring shots

Often bartenders will use the shot glass as a measurement unit instead of ml or ounces. The size and shape of these glasses vary with each establishment - so ask your staff what they usually use to make drinks and adjust which type of shot glass or shaker will be used to make drinks.

Bartenders should also know the difference between ounces, milliliters, and shots. This is important because certain drinks are made with a specific amount of alcohol - so knowing these measurements will help bartenders prepare drinks more efficiently.

For example, if someone asked for an "old-fashioned," they may need to specify whether they want it made with bourbon, brandy, or whiskey for the bartender to be able to prepare it.

Bartenders should also know how much an ounce is and this can vary depending on where you are - so if a bartender is unfamiliar with measurements, it is encouraged to have them ask staff with knowledge of your restaurant's procedures; instead of guessing based on another bar's size.

To measure the number of shots in a bottle, you need to know the bottle's alcohol content.

A typical 750ml or 1-liter size vodka bottle contains 40 fluid oz while smaller bottles may contain as little as 30 fluid ounces. You would then divide this by 0.6, which is how many fluid ounces are in a shot (roughly).

For example, if you want to know how many shots are in an 18 oz container, it would be 2.5 times larger than those with 12 oz containers and roughly 20% less per drink due to ice that is added depending on where you live and other factors.

However, WISK is a powerful app that counts how many shots are left in your bottles without the need to do math every time you need to use them. It works by measuring the dimensions of your bottle on a Bluetooth scale and matching it to a liquor database with ease.

Once it matches a bottle or you manually input a new bottle during inventory, it will calculate the number of shots left based on the amount of liquid left based on the current volume. As long as you do inventory consistently, you will not have to sweat the details yourself.

Bar knowledge

Understanding and knowing the basics of bartenders is a fundamental element of any successful bar. Here are some details that can be easily overlooked:

  • Know your menu prices - this will help you in setting up drinks for new customers or having to deal with requests from guests who want their liquor overpriced because they assume it's top shelf.
  • Always be professional and clean the premises often
  • Empathize with customers, try not to take things personally, and do not pour any more than 1 drink per minute to avoid spillage.

Common terminology to know

  1. Cold Shot: a shot of liquor served with ice on the side.
  2. Drip Tray: a tray that catches spilled drink or ice from a shaker.
  3. Muddler: an instrument used to mash and mix cocktails, such as sugar cubes with fruit.
  4. Tinctures: bartenders can use this for infusions which are alcohol extracts of herbs, spices, or other food items. Alcohol is mixed with these ingredients in order to preserve their flavor.
  5. Top Shelf: literally the top of a liquor's shelf in stores, typically higher quality than what is sold to people who are not bartenders.
  6. Well Drink is a drink made with good liquor, which is a common term in the industry to describe low-grade alcohols.
  7. Skinny: a bartender term for a drink that is made lighter. This may be done by removing some of the substances to reduce calories or alcohol content.
  8. Aperitif: an alcoholic beverage consumed before a meal as an appetizer, such as white wine and champagne.
  9. Barrel of Beer: a standard barrel of beer contains 31 gallons which equals about 18 cases or 288 twelve-ounce bottles
  10. Bottle Service: refers to the practice of purchasing drinks at a nightclub in advance, rather than ordering from the bar staff. This is common when people want their alcohol served with ice and mixers added to them.
  11. Liquor: an alcoholic beverage made from distilled grain/spirits, such as whisky, gin, and vodka.
  12. Sours: is usually made with fruit juice or lime mixed in and served as shots.
  13. Old fashioned: has whiskey poured over ice cubes that are then crushed by hand before being strained into a glass.
  14. Shelf-life: the length of time that alcohol will stay fresh. This can be affected by the quality and type of liquor, as well as environmental factors such as temperature and light exposure.
  15. Aging: liquors, wines, and beers can be aged for a period of time in order to improve their flavor. Recommending the right aged alcoholic beverages is important for those looking for a higher quality drink.
  16. Shaken vs stirred: refers to how a drink is prepared by the bartender. A shaken drink will have ice and liquor mixed together in a container before being strained into the glass, whereas stirred drinks are simply poured from one container to another.
  17. Collins: an alcoholic beverage made with gin or vodka that has been diluted with carbonated water (soda).
  18. Martini: one of the most popular cocktails served in bars that are made with gin or vodka shaken with vermouth (a kind of fortified wine), ice cubes, and olive juice for garnish.
  19. Mimosa: this drink typically consists of a mixture of champagne and orange juice, or sometimes other fruit juices.
  20. Straining: filtering ice that was used to mix a drink and replacing it with new ice to ensure it lasts longer in the customer's glass.
  21. Mescal: an alcoholic beverage made by distilling wine or fermented fruit juice, such as pineapple.

... and many more

Down with the numbers: How to limit liquor costs

Reducing spillage

One of the biggest costs of running a bar is wasted liquor. Ensuring your bartenders know how to pour properly, and adhere to standard pours reduces this problem and allows you to use less alcohol, therefore saving money.

The first step is to ensure your bartenders are using the right size glasses for each drink. A good rule of thumb here would be a shot glass for shots, and either an old-fashioned or wineglass depending on what you're pouring for drinks such as martinis, cosmos, sours, etc. This will help them measure out the correct portion of alcohol, and will help you avoid wasting the rest.

Some restaurants try and wait until after service when they have counted their inventory, but it's hard to keep a bottle of liquor under your radar.

You should always make sure you know how many bottles fit on each shelf/rack every time you restock them, which helps with investing in inventory management software. This will help you know when it's time to order more alcohol and where your money is going.

Focus on inventory management

The first step would be downloading an inventory app or investing in dedicated tracking software. The second is to assign someone the responsibility of counting and knowing where each bottle goes every time you restock.

You should also make sure that none of your employees are consuming any alcohol from a container when they're not working, as this will cause an increase in theft or poor inventory management practices - which an inventory app can also catch if you do inventory often and consistently and compare it to your POS (if you have one). Of course, you will know how to track your drinks being given to your customers and reveal the freebies becoming a hidden expense.

If you don't have a point of sale system, you should consider investing in it as it helps you track orders and know how they should be organized between staff. Doing so makes it easier for not only you but the customers paying at the bar, as it offers a diverse range of payment methods.

It is especially useful in helping bartenders keep track of customers and owners to keep track of the sales generated by each employee.

With this knowledge, you can also track which menu items and alcoholic beverages are most sold and which are running out more often. You will inevitably know which bottles are not selling as much, which therefore curates your bar to your customers.

Maximize marketing strategy to increase your bar profits

There are a number of ways to promote your bar restaurant using social media marketing, but not all of them will be effective for every business. You'll need to consider your target audience, your budget, and your goals when deciding which social media marketing strategies to use. Once you've identified the most promising methods, you can focus your efforts on making sure they're as successful as possible for your bar sales and performance.

Identify your competitors

Whether you're a bar owner or a restaurant owner, knowing your competition is essential to running a successful business. After all, if you don't know what your competitors are doing, how can you hope to stay ahead of the curve and increase bar profits?

There are a few ways to identify your competitors.

  • The first way is to look at the average bar in your area. This will give you an idea of what types of bars are popular in your area and what customers are looking for.
  • Take a look at their food items. What kind of food do they serve? Do they offer a unique twist on familiar dishes? 
  • Take a look at their signature drinks. What kind of drinks do they serve? Are they unique or classic concoctions? And what makes your cocktails unique?
  • Next, take a look at the customer experience. How do they make their customers feel? Do they provide a fun and inviting atmosphere?
  • Another way to identify your competitors is by looking at online directories and review sites. This will allow you to see what other bars in your area have to offer and how they compare to yours.
  • Finally, you can ask your existing customers directly. This can be done through surveys or customer feedback forms.

Increase efforts to retain your existing customer base

A bar's existing customer base is its best chance to increase bar sales. New customers are always great, but they can be costly to acquire through marketing and promotion. It is far less expensive to keep existing customers coming back than it is to acquire a new one. Therefore, efforts to retain customers should be a top priority.

Keep in mind, that with so many bars and restaurants competing for customers, it's important to find ways to stand out from the crowd.

Establish a loyalty program to increase drink sales

For bar and restaurant owners, offering drink specials and other rewards for repeat business can help increase bar revenue and attract new customers. Some bars offer loyalty programs that give a free plate or drink after a certain number of visits. This can help build stronger relationships, especially with the existing customers. Creating a loyal base of regulars who will continue to support your business provides value in developing a unique selling point for your bar and help increase your profit margin.

Providing a great customer experience is also another way to increase customer retention. This includes everything from being friendly and accommodating to providing quick and efficient service. Always ensure that your staff provides a great customer experience for your patrons.

Finally, you may also increase customer retention by always offering something new. This could be a new signature cocktail, new menu food items, or even just a new decoration in the bar. This will help keep your customers coming back to see what's new and also help increase word-of-mouth marketing for your business.

Implementing just one or two of these strategies can make a big difference in your bar and restaurant business. Showing appreciation for loyal customers can go a long way towards ensuring their continued business. So, start today and see the results for yourself!

Improve customer visibility

Anything a bar can do to increase its visibility and appeal is likely to pay off in terms of increased business.

One way to achieve this is by expanding the physical size of the bar. This could involve adding additional seating, or even taking over an adjacent unit if possible. This not only makes the bar more appealing to customers but also gives it a wider catchment area. Ensuring that the bar is well-lit and clean can also help to attract customers and encourage them to spend more time (and money) there. 

A successful bar can also increase customer visibility by providing additional features of products and services that are appealing to a wide range of people. By offering a broad selection of drinks, food, and entertainment, a bar can increase its chances of attracting new customers.

Getting social exposure

Social media marketing is a great strategy to get your name out there and keep customers up-to-date with what's going on in the restaurant. It also gives you the opportunity for cost-effective marketing - so it's no wonder that many cocktail bars are now posting their creations on Instagram or Facebook.

Social media is a tool that many people go to for inspiration and recommendations/reviews nowadays, so what better way to show your skills? It has been confirmed that 88% of customers consult the internet to make decisions for their next restaurant stop and compare them based on comments and reviews.

There are plenty of ways to use social media marketing, but if you're just getting started, try these:

  • Create a drink and post it on social media accounts. Ask people what they think of the ingredients in the drink, or how they would have made it differently. This will get them excited about your bar and make them want to come to visit - which is great for business!
  • Post pictures of you and your staff having a good time, or show people behind the scenes at work.
  • Encourage your customers to share what they're drinking with their friends on social media - this will make them feel involved in the bar experience, which is great for marketing!
  • Asking guests who are paying the check how they felt about their visit and why they came. This will help you find out what's working for your bar, so it can be replicated in the future!

Dealing with high turnover rates

Hiring the right bar staff comes with its own challenges, but you can find people who are enthusiastic about the industry and will maintain a high level of professionalism.

The first step is to establish qualifications for bartenders, including a minimum age requirement (usually 21) - which you should be asking when candidates apply anyway. You'll also want someone with experience or training in restaurant service, hospitality, and of course bartending. Having set high standards and offering training right off the bat will inevitably save you from high turnover rates.

You should make sure you're hiring people with a good work ethic and the willingness to learn - this will help them be more invested in your establishment's success, which is something every restaurant wants for their staff!

It can take some time to find the right individual, but if you know what qualities are desired it will make it easier to find a good match. A patient, reliable, and sociable person is always the way to go when hiring bartenders.

Dealing with high turnover rates is a problem that many bars have to deal with, but taking these steps can help:

  • Offer classes on how to make drinks. This will teach the new bartender what they need to know about your bar and its inventory of spirits which you should always keep up-to-date.
  • Offer incentives for employees to work on a long-term basis, such as higher wages, favorable shifts, and offering skill building.
  • Offer new staff the opportunity to be in charge of their own shift; this will make them feel like they have more responsibility and autonomy at work.
  • Be open to new recipes or suggestions from bar staff since it fosters a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere.
  • Show staff how to use your POS System properly, with all the useful tricks, such as splitting checks and flagging allergies.
  • Train bar staff to upsell or talk about the specials by suggesting customers try certain drinks over others or offering an experience - preferably those based on the customer's preferences after careful listening. This is because it is best to frame it as a suggestion over a sale on a more expensive drink; which also improves staff-customer relationships.
  • Train your staff to recommend drinks based on the food people have ordered or will order alongside. This knowledge is power, as it seems more genuine than a sales pitch.

What can I do to improve my bar sales?

Many bar restaurant businesses desire to expand profit margins, but they may not know where to begin. One approach to achieve this is to go through your compliance and operational processes. Are your regulations up to date and properly followed? If not, make any necessary modifications and enforce them so that your bar restaurant functions effectively. Here are some ideas for improving the profitability of your bar restaurant.

  • Menu pricing

Menu pricing is a crucial part of making a profit. An analysis of the menu prices should be conducted in order to ensure that they are in line with what is being charged at similar establishments and represent a fair value for the customers.

Setting menu prices that are too low, and you'll run the risk of losses due to inventory cost overruns. On the other hand, menu prices that are too high can dissuade customers from patronizing your establishment.

To discover areas where cost savings might be achieved by modifying recipes or ingredients, a review of the food and cocktail menu is necessary. Menu prices must be adjusted to reflect current trends in the tourism business. In addition, the food menu should be updated on a regular basis to ensure that it is in accordance with contemporary food safety standards.

Another way is to create a special price for high-margin items that you want to sell more of. This will help to increase overall sales while also boosting your profits. Implementing a special price for drinks during certain hours could encourage customers to purchase during less busy times.

  • Eliminate unnecessary costs

For any bar restaurant, it is essential to keep a tight reign on costs in order to improve sales. These costs can come in the form of labor, food, and liquor cost.

An effective way to reduce unnecessary costs is to streamline operations. This may mean automating tasks or eliminating steps that don't add value to attracting customers.

First, it's important to carefully track labor costs. This includes not only wages but also things like overtime and breakage. Nowadays, many bars have adapted self-service ordering systems for food and drink. This helps to reduce labor costs while still providing excellent service.

Another way to cut costs is to carefully manage inventory. This begins with understanding the average bar's food and liquor consumption. By knowing how much is being used on a nightly basis, owners can order the right amount of supplies and avoid overspending. Additionally, regular inventory checks can help to identify any liquor that may be going bad before it needs to be replaced.

Evaluating the pour cost of each drink on the menu is also an important factor to consider. Pour costs are the portion of each drink sale that goes towards the cost of the alcohol. In order to eliminate unnecessary costs, bartenders need to be trained on proper pour sizes with the use of jiggers or pour spouts, this is essential for speed and accuracy and avoids over-pouring, spillage, and wasted time.

Another way to reduce pour cost is to use fresh fruit and juices instead of mixers. This not only reduces the cost of each drink but also makes them taste better.

Furthermore, always pay attention to your menu items and food costs. Are you using the freshest ingredients? Is your food menu too expensive or too complicated? It is therefore important to capitalize on special pricing opportunities. For example, many liquor companies offer reduced prices for large orders, so it's important to stock up when these deals are available. Keep a close eye on your liquor cost percentage and make sure that it does not exceed 15-18%. 

  • Do a regular bar audit

One of the most important things restaurant owners can do to improve their business is to perform a regular bar audit. This involves taking a close look at all aspects of their restaurant and bar's operation.

A bar audit comes with a physical inventory of all liquor, wine, and beer on your bar's premises. It also includes an evaluation of your bar's pour cost percentage and cocktail pricing. Doing a bar audit on a regular basis is essential for effective bar management. Why? Because it allows you to address issues such as over-pouring, product shrinkage, and waste. It also gives you an accurate picture of your pour cost so you can make necessary adjustments to your prices.

Another important area to focus on during your audit is bar organization. Is your bar well-stocked, or are there frequently empty shelves? Are bottles and glasses neatly arranged, or are they cluttered and difficult to find? Taking the time to optimize your bar's layout can make a big difference in how smoothly it runs.

How your bartenders interact with customers is also an important consideration. Are they friendly and efficient, or do they often seem rushed and frazzled? Do they upsell customers on higher-priced items, or do they let them order whatever they want without trying to push them in a particular direction? By making sure your bartenders are providing good customer service, you can help ensure that customers have a positive experience and are more likely to return.

In addition, a bar audit can help to assess the effectiveness of current policies and procedures. Examine carefully all aspects of the bar, from inventory to labor costs, bar owners can identify areas that need improvement.

For example, if a bar is routinely overstaffed, an audit can help to identify the cause of the problem and develop a plan to address it. In short, a bar audit is an essential tool for any owner serious about improving their business.

  • Automate inventory and ordering

As a bar owner, you understand how important it is to automate the inventory management process. With the help of inventory management software like Wisk, automating these procedures may enhance bar revenue considerably while lowering labor expenses in the long run.

  • Laws and Restrictions

Losing your liquor license or even facing liquor fines is an expensive and stressful situation, which is why it's important to make sure you're following the law in terms of customer age restrictions.

This means you'll need to have a process in place for checking IDs, like having someone at the door and using software to keep track of ID's. You should also avoid hiring anyone under 21 as it is against the law - which will save you from all of this hassle!

Lastly, liability insurance is something you will need to maintain for your bar. It helps protect your business from costly lawsuits if someone were injured or became sick as a result of their visit - and it's required by law in most US states so don't forget!

Liquor liability insurance isn't expensive; it can be obtained quickly and easily through a variety of different providers. if alcohol is being sold to minors, the costs of a lawsuit can be immense, not to mention the damage it could do to your reputation.

Therefore, investing in licenses, liquor liability coverages, and insurances are worth it and save you time and money if anything were to come your way. It is best to know what you are investing in so that you are aware of what would be manageable with these coverages versus those for which you would need additional consulting. However, certifications have been mentioned in our previous blog post, so feel free to check it out for more information!

Don't miss out on anything important to increase your profit margin

Now that we've gone over some crucial ideas to improve your performance and bar sales, put them into practice and see how it goes! But if you've previously tried any of these strategies. What additional methods have proved effective for you to increase your bar profits? Leave a remark below with your thoughts on this topic!

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